Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Therapy Spot! This week, I spoke with Laura Goldstein, LCSW, about the difference between curiosity, and telling. In her professional practice, Laura has been helping families, couples, and individuals since 1996. Her integrative mind-body approach incorporates the IFS model alongside yoga and mindfulness practices. We talked about how the Self quality of curiosity can enhance connection — and how telling can create distance. Listen along to our energetic and informative conversation!
Getting Connected: Curiosity vs. Telling
Laura’s own professional journey has shaped her personal life and connections. Prior to embracing IFS, her work involved a lot of talking and explaining, but not much internal awareness. Working with IFS has deepened her relationships, because when we’re in a Self-led place, curiosity grows naturally.
We humans are naturally curious creatures who seek connection. When we interact with each other, certain behaviors increase connection, while others create distance and disconnection. Let’s talk about ways to increase better connection, both within ourselves internally, and with others externally.
Think of a situation where you told a loved about a problem or a concern. For example, let’s say that you felt worried you wouldn’t be able to afford an upcoming vacation.
Telling response: “You should get a second job.”
Curious response: “Would you consider a temporary part-time job? Is that possible for you?”
The telling response above — “You should get a second job” — is dismissive. It doesn’t invite connection. Maybe you don’t have the time or energy, between childcare and other responsibilities, to take on another job! But to say that in response to the other person might sound defensive, or like you’re making excuses. The curious response, while it suggests the same course of action, invites you to share more of your thoughts around the problem.
“People often want to be told what to do. As a therapist, in that role, I don’t do that. Instead, I extend curiosity. Telling is a shortcut in communication. But when I invite you to look at yourself in a caring way, that builds connection between us.”
Pause. Breathe. Go Inside.
Moving from a place of telling to one of curiosity takes practice, awareness, mindfulness, and courage. In particular, we need the courage to pause. When you pause, you can listen, go inside, and notice who’s in charge right now. Don’t be afraid to go slowly!
Telling inside has the same side effects as telling outside. Notice what happens inside. Do you get defensive? Are you listening in a connected way? When it comes to other people, Laura says, “I tend to disconnect from telling people. My Self energy may not be present. I’m actually having a whole internal dialogue without the other person knowing, just to keep myself calm!”
If you find yourself in a similar situation, check internally to see what part is up. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I feel comfortable being vulnerable with this person?
- Is this a safe connection to mention that I don’t respond well to telling?
Internally, if your telling part gets loud, you might hear the words “should” a lot. When your internal dialogue gets flooded with “should,” pause, breathe, and go inside. Ask yourself:
- Who’s leading my team?
- Why do you feel like you have to lead right now?
- How long have you been in charge?
- Can we do things differently?
Make it your goal to have your parts feel heard and acknowledged. Your blaming and shaming parts will quiet down. By listening, you show your parts “You are worth getting to know,” and Self love will grow.
The Journey is the Destination
Self inquiry isn’t like a book that you finish and put back on the shelf. It’s an ongoing process, a journey of discovery. I invite you all to begin, and to continue this journey of understanding and connecting with yourself better on the inside. As your Self love grows, you’ll have more compassion for others, more curiosity towards them, and more connection with them.
Laura, thank you so much for coming onto the show to share your knowledge with us. Thank you, also, to those of you out there listening, sharing the show, and supporting me via Patreon. If you’d like to help keep the Therapy Spot going, and access bonus monthly content, you can do so with a small financial contribution. Until next time!